17 February 2013

Rwanda: CAF Incompetence Exposed Again!

Photo: 2010 FIFA OC
CAF President Issa Hayatou.

Away from the thrilling action on the pitch, the refereeing at the just ended African Nations Cup left a lot to be desired. Shockingly, however, CAF president Issa Hayatou's positive remarks about the officiating, has left me wondering if we were watching the same tournament.

Last week, the CAF president said that he was satisfied with the performance despite some questionable officiating.

During the tournament, Tunisian referee Slim Jedidi, was suspended for dubious officiating during the semi-final between Ghana and Burkina Faso, which led to CAF reversing the red card that he had handed to The Stallions winger Jonathan Pitroipa.

Egyptian referee Grisha Ghead was also sent home for his controversial handling of the group stage match between Zambia and Nigeria in which he handed Chipolopolo a late penalty.

Other controversial refereeing decisions in the tournament include Ghana's goalkeeper, Fatau Dauda's yellow carded instead of red for a handball outside the area against Mali and South African referee Daniel Bennett handing a yellow card to the wrong player in Group D's contest between Togo and Tunisia.

And yet despite all this, Hayatou still maintains that he was satisfied with what he saw. "The reality is that overall we are happy with the officiating," he was quoted as saying. "Yes, there have been some mistakes that have been made by some referees that troubled us. Those referees, however, did stand up and acknowledged that they had made mistakes which is why we had to reverse some of those decisions. The reason why we had to reverse the sanctions on the two affected players was based on the recommendations made by the referee."

Despite Hayatou's efforts to play down the poor standard of refereeing, it was without a doubt the biggest disappointment of the tournament. In fact, it was so poor at times it looked like some of the officials had taken bribes to further the progress of certain teams.


On the flipside, the tournament surpassed expectations despite the absence of some of Africa's traditional powerhouses like Egypt and Cameroon.

It was presumed that debutants Cape Verde and the likes of Niger and Ethiopia would wilt under the enormity of the tournament but the trio earned respect from nearly all corners. The fighting spirit of the Ethiopians, the technical ability of Cape Verde and the compactness of Niger proved that the playing field in Africa has been leveled. Ethiopia made the defending champions Zambia look ordinary while the Black Stars of Ghana looked out of sorts against a well organized DR Congo side.

Burkina Faso, Mali and Cape Verde all showed signs of emerging flair, a sign that the days are gone when the flair only belonged to some nations.

On top of usual suspects like Emmanuel Adebayor, Didier Drogba and Mikel John Obi, the tournament gave us a glimpse of new talents like Saladin Said of Ethiopia, Moussa Maazou of Niger and Mendes of Cape Verde.

Nigeria was certainly not the odds-on favorite to take the title when the tournament commenced. In fact, they started out slowly but grew stronger as the tournament wore on and in the end were deserved winners of a tense final against Burkina Faso.

Despite all the odds, Super Eagles coach Stephen Keshi became only the second man to win Africa's premier football tournament as a player and coach. He handled the players expertly throughout their time in South Africa and took them from strength-to-strength both physically and mentally.

That said, Burkina Faso also deserve a pat on the back for reaching the final. While few may have tipped Nigeria to win the title, no one gave 'The Stallions' any chance of progressing past the group stages.

And yet they went from not winning a single match at last year's Nations Cup in Equatorial Guinea and Gabon to reaching the final in 2013.This shows how far a team can go when they are prepared to work hard for a coach that believes in them.

2013 AFCON stats

Top scorers (4 goals)

Emmanuel Emenike - Nigeria

Mubarak Wakaso - Ghana

Best player - Jonathan Pitroipa (Burkina Faso)

Goal of the tournament - Youssef Msakni (Tunisia)

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